Warfield’s Legacy!

The Westminster Confession of Faith’s confession regarding holy scripture as being divinely inspired refers to the apographa (copies), not just the autographa (originals). That is what the Westminster divines meant by their confession. Now the moderns, of course, interpret this entirely differently, they say the divines meant only the originals were inspired. For the seed of this modern day reinterpretation, we have to go back to Princeton and our friend(?) BB Warfield. He provided the fundamental paradigm for this shift in Reformed circles. He no longer taught providential ‘preservation’ of the text but rather its providential ‘restoration’ later in the twentieth century.
And so the restoration goes on and on and on. New version after new version after new version, update after update after update.
“The text is changing. Every time that I make an edition of the Greek New Testament, or anybody does, we change the wording. We are maybe trying to get back to the oldest possible form but, paradoxically, we are creating a new one. Every translation is different, every reading is different, and although there’s been a tradition in parts of Protestant Christianity to say there is a definitive single form of the text, the fact is you can never find it. There is never ever a final form of the text” (Dr D. C. Parker, Textual Scholarship and the Making of the New Testament, Oxford University Press, 2012).
The end result of Warfield’s ‘Restorationist Textual Criticism’ is scepticism, unbelief, even.
And yet Warfield left us with a glimmer of hope. “The inerrant autographs were a fact once; they may possibly be a fact again when textual criticism has said its last word on the Bible text. Do we have an even better and better Bible than we have now?”
Not quite as sure of himself as mostly he made out?

(James R Hamilton, June 2019)
Sermon Audio

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